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Little more than a day before the second and final vote in Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday, incumbent president Dilma Rousseff has opened up a lead of as much as eight percentage points over rival Aécio Neves of the pro-business PSDB in the major polls. How did she do it?

The rejection rate – those voters who will not support a candidate under any circumstances – of Mr Neves was expected to grow after the first round vote on October 6 when he came second. After all, he is unknown to many Brazilians and only really came under scrutiny during the campaigning for the second round, when the race was reduced from multiple candidates to just two. 

“It is time to unite.”

The slogan ambushes Ukrainians from all sides these days as Petro Poroshenko, the president, deploys it to win votes ahead of parliamentary elections on October 26 that will determine whether he can secure a mandate for important but stalled reforms.

Appeals to unity are easy to understand. Since the popular protests in Kiev against the rule of ousted former president Victor Yanukovich a year ago, Ukraine has lost Crimea while big parts of the Donbas, an industrial region in the south-east, have fallen to separatists. 

Uruguay has grabbed more than its fair share of headlines recently, thanks to its atypical and endearing president, José “Pepe” Mujica, and the exceptionally progressive policies he has championed, such as legalising cannabis.

But the tiny South American country’s presidential elections on Sunday will go largely unnoticed, as the nail-biting finish of the presidential race in Brazil monopolises attention.

Nevertheless, the two elections are remarkably similar. In both countries, a left-wing party that has ruled for the last decade is struggling to remain in power, with growing discontent as their economies slow down – although admittedly Uruguay’s economy remains much healthier than Brazil’s. 

By Henry S. D’Auria and Christine Phillpotts, AllianceBernstein

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy and one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers. Resolving its electricity generation gaps could significantly boost the country’s economic growth and provide opportunities for equity investors.

Most global investors pay insufficient attention to Nigeria, which is not included in traditional emerging market equity indices. Yet in this country of 174m people, a policy-driven change to infrastructure could transform the economy and create new opportunities for equity investors. 

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By Matt Gamser and Paul Lee

A new wave of financing innovations is democratising access to capital, especially for those most vulnerable among small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs). Are governments and large financial institutions ready to embrace these innovations and enable the necessary regulatory reforms to support the growth of entrepreneurs across Asia?

Raising capital has always been one of the greatest challenges for the growth and sustainability of SMMEs. The International Financial Corporation estimates that the total unmet need for credit by SMMEs globally ranges from US$2.1tn to US$2.5tn. In East Asia alone, the credit gap is a massive US$900bn to US$1.1tn. 

Ethiopia, Africa’s biggest coffee producer, will benefit from unusually dry weather in Brazil that has lowered the output and helped lift the price of Arabica beans. Arabica prices surged to a three-year high – to over 200 US cents per pound – in October, which is expected to lift Ethiopia’s coffee export earnings by 25 per cent to $900m this year.

But Ethiopia is missing an opportunity to make a lot more money from arabica, which originated in the country’s highlands, and is considered the superior of two main varieties of coffee bean (the other, robusta, is more bitter and tends to be used to make instant coffee). 

** FT News **

* US accuses allies of buying Isis oil | US Treasury accuses allies of buying smuggled oil and helping fund Islamist group

* Japan blighted by zombie housing | Shrinking population and ‘scrap and build’ culture lead to 8m empty homes 

** FT News **

* US accuses allies of buying Isis oil | US Treasury accuses allies of buying smuggled oil and helping fund Islamist group

* Weak exports weigh on S Korea GDP | Rising consumption offsets slowing shipments to China as economy expands 3.2% 

With the end of Brazil’s elections approaching on October 26, the country’s smartphones are humming. Almost every group on WhatsApp, or ZapZap as Brazilians call it, has something to share about the second-round presidential candidates, incumbent Dilma Rousseff of the leftist PT and opposition rival Aécio Neves of the centrist PSDB. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been flooded with election-related videos and memes. 

Bolivia, a key supplier of gas to the southern half of Latin America, is facing potentially harder times as falling international oil prices are piling downward pressure onto the price at which it sells its gas.

However, Carlos Villegas, the president of the state-run energy company, YPFB, is confident that if oil prices continue to hover around their current levels of $82 a barrel, Bolivia can avoid having to cut the prices of its exported natural gas.

“For Bolivia if the oil price lies in the range of between $80 and $100, the prices for [gas] exports will remain at their current level,” says Villegas 

Unofficial readings on China’s industrial activity released on Thursday add to a sense that the underlying economic vibrancy of the world’s second largest economy may have continued its ebbing trend into October.

This may surprise those who bought into the notion that industrial output rebounded strongly in September, rising to 8 per cent year on year, up from 6.9 per cent in August. In fact, though, that September “rebound” was largely the result of a big statistical base effect, according to China Confidential research.

Similarly, the announcement on Thursday of a pick up in HSBC/Markit’s manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) to 50.4 in October so far – up from 50.2 in September – is misleading. In fact, readings on manufacturing output and new orders – the key measures of industrial vibrancy – revealed markedly weaker trends. 

A jeweller in Surat, Gujarat, has been the talk of the town – and the whole nation – after giving cars and apartments to hundreds of employees.

Savjibhai Dholakia, chairman of Hari Krishna Exports, handed out 500 Fiat Puntos, 207 apartments and 570 pieces of jewellery, according to the Guardian newspaper, which said that he would pay for his mysterious beneficence in installments “over the next few years.”

The scale of Dholakia’s generosity is unusual, but it is somewhat in keeping with Indian tradition. Throughout the country, offices are piled high with hampers of dried fruit and chocolates, gifts from companies to employees and clients, as India celebrates its festival of lights on October 23. 

** FT News **

* Hungary to impose world’s first internet tax | Latest unorthodox economic policy of president Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party

* Drinks with Russian soldiers in Lugansk | Vodka and Celine Dion in the Weeping Willow in eastern Ukraine 

** FT News **

* Drinks with Russian soldiers in Lugansk | Vodka and Celine Dion in the Weeping Willow in eastern Ukraine

* Apple chief in China security talks | Cook meets officials after reports that state-sponsored hackers targeted iCloud users 

If there’s one subject on which policymakers around the world seem to agree, it’s that foreign direct investment is a Good Thing.

The annual tables of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) are treated by governments of rich and poor economies alike much as football fans treat rankings in the English Premier League, crowed over by countries in the leading pack and quietly forgotten by those in the relegation zone.

There is no doubt that FDI can do a lot of good: it can add to an economy’s productive capacity and import not just capital but technology, production skills and better management. China, which not only welcomed FDI but witnessed intense competition between different provinces to attract it, stands as a shining example.